As I sit here tapping away at my laptop, I take a minute to pause and soak up my surroundings – something I don’t always make time to do on the day to day, #busy. I am currently pitched up in a plush velvet booth at the Ministry in SE1 (our shiny new London digs) surrounded by a bunch of strangers. Some of them are laser focussed on their MacBooks, putting energy into whatever exciting project they are working on, others are quietly chatting away over a fresh coffee.
There are a few four-legged friends dotted around today, one Frenchie keeps coming over for a chin scratch, to which I happily oblige. Can we have an office dog please Caroline? There are a handful of people with headphones on, in the midst of animated Teams calls; I can’t help but tune into their half of the conversation a little (I always wonder what everyone else does for a living). What strikes me most is a feeling of unity. Here we all are, under the same roof, all doing very different things professionally but with a shared energy, everyone has purpose, everyone is friendly and everyone has a smile for the stranger working away opposite them.
This resonates with me and my working life in the Property PR industry, we are all under the same roof (excuse the pun) but we all do very different things – all driven by a purpose, what that is looks different for everyone. For me it’s about adding value, but I will come back to that later.
It got me thinking, reflecting on the year following my arrival into The Oracle Group in Summer 2021, how so much has changed and how seamlessly my colleagues and clients have adjusted and just got on with it. Overcoming hurdle after hurdle in what has been not only a challenging year in the property sector but also the lingering readjustment to normal life off the back of all the challenges Covid posed us as an industry – and as humans in general.
My 1-year work anniversary at The Oracle Group was in September. Paper is the theme for a 1-year wedding anniversary and I chuckled to myself that morning when I was obsessively scanning the papers for coverage secured for our clients. The past year has been nothing short of a whirlwind romance for me, one that shows no signs of fizzling out!
Joining Oracle as Client Services Director I got stuck straight into onboarding new clients; getting to know my colleagues and mentees; securing and strengthening new business relationships; being an integral part of driving our business forward; learning new CRM systems; diving into influencer campaigns to aligning with charities to support them to achieve their vision. From working endlessly and with integrity to get it right, the right coverage in the right place at the right time; keeping on top of the ever-changing social media landscape; adjusting to market turmoil; watching the impact of the revolving door at No 10; the highs of the Platinum Jubilee, to the low of the passing of Her Majesty the Queen when everyone united in mourning – I haven’t made time to sit back and take it all in.
Life is currently a combination of getting out on site visits (muddy boots on the ground is one of my fav elements of this job); to slightly more glamourous launch events, mixed in with a healthy sprinkle of weird and wonderful client events; team bonding (which comes with ease when you have a team like we do); industry networking events and writing award-winning entries! Top this off with some crisis-management and the reality of the cost-of-living crisis starting to bite – excluding the Covid pandemic, this has been a year that has seen change of biblical proportions and required quicker adaptability and resilience than I have known since the financial crash in 2007/8.
Navigating uncertainty and change is a key part of what we do at Oracle – as a business and as PR professionals we have the resilience to guide our clients through choppy waters. Personally and professionally, a look back at the last 12 months highlights the importance of growth mindset required.
So, what’s the point? Purpose. Yes, we all need to pay the (ever increasing) bills but what motivates me to work hard every day? It is the purpose, the bigger picture, the value-added element I aim to bring to the table. Of course, I want to exceed client expectations and deliver above and beyond the service we have agreed, that goes without saying, tangible results are essential – but it all links back to wanting to help, to do and be better, to build long lasting relationships. Do I work with drive and enthusiasm for clients, yes. Do I overservice, also yes. I am driven by the human connection element of our industry; I love people and PR is all about people. It is what we do best.
As an industry (and in life) we do better together, they say no man is an island and it’s true. The value of PR is more far reaching than just column inches, KPIs, AVE, success on social media, creative campaigns, improving perception (caveat – these are all very important) but none of them are strong enough individually. PR is all encompassing, fresh eyes, difficult conversations, long lasting relationship building and good old-fashioned peopling.
A bit like baking a cake, you need all the ingredients (not just some) – for a successful sweet treat without the soggy bottom. For me it comes back to collaboration and good working relationships. I am an extension of you, here to make your life (hopefully) feel a little easier, working with you to deliver a cake that Paul Hollywood could only dream of eating!
Sometimes I feel people fight against us when they can’t see the ‘value’ of PR or push for immediate results and instant gratification; good things take time to cultivate – think of it as a meaningful relationship rather than a one-night stand. There isn’t truly a quick win in this industry.
To counter the famous line by Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones’s Diary who dismissively said “You swan in here, in your short skirt and sexy see-through blouse and fanny about with press releases all day” … I think our successes and the results delivered for clients have proven umpteen times, PR really is more than just fannying about with press releases.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.